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Remembering Frank Robinson

Feb 8, 2019
Originally published on February 8, 2019 11:43 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And some sad news this morning. Frank Robinson, the Hall of Fame baseball player and manager, died yesterday at the age of 83. What an extraordinary career. It began in 1956 when Robinson won Rookie of the Year. He was recognized twice as baseball's Most Valuable Player, the only man ever to win that title in both the National and American leagues. He was also named MVP of the All-Star Game and the World Series.

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UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER: He's holding.

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UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER: Long drive. That's deep to left field. That one is going...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That was Robinson hitting a homerun in the 1970 World Series. At that time, he was playing for the Baltimore Orioles where he spent much of his career. Robinson made history off the field, too. In 1975, he became manager of the Cleveland Indians, the first African-American to manage a major league team. But in interviews, Robinson said he didn't want his race to be the headline.

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FRANK ROBINSON: Everywhere I went, it was, how does it feel to be the first black manager? I just wanted to be looked up on and thought of as a major league manager. My head almost blew off and just exploded because you're hearing the same questions.

GREENE: He made his mark on so many baseball towns. He went on to manage the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles and the Montreal Expos, who later became the Washington Nationals. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982, his first year of eligibility. Now, while he loved baseball, Robinson was not blind to its faults. And he said the sport introduced him to the sting of racism, but he refused to dwell on the adversity. In a 2006 interview, he offered this advice to the young people who saw him as a hero.

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ROBINSON: Just dream the dream and don't give up on it. And, you know, if things get a little tough, that's life.

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GREENE: What an extraordinary life this was. Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson died at his home here in Los Angeles at the age of 83 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.